Duncan on Katrina Comment: “It Was a Dumb Thing to Say”

Feb 2, 2010 10:20am

ABC News' Mary Bruce Reports: Education Secretary Arne Duncan apologized this morning
for saying last week that Hurricane Katrina was "the best thing" for
the New Orleans school system.

“I said it in a poor way and I apologize for that. It was a dumb thing
to say. My point was a simple one, that subsequent to that devastating,
devastating tragedy we have seen remarkable progress and that school
system has improved so rapidly it’s been amazing to watch,” Duncan said
this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Meanwhile local Louisiana education officials have offered their support to the Secretary and backed his original comment.

“What he's saying is commonly held among people here. Little was being
done on school reform prior to the hurricane, the schools were abysmal,
post Katrina people saw an opportunity to build a school district from
the ground up,” Superintendent of the Recovery School District in
Louisiana Paul Vallas told ABC.

“The silver lining to Katrina is what has happened with public
education in Louisiana and New Orleans. If we had not had Katrina it
would not have happened to be honest with you,” added Louisiana
Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek. “I think it's an accurate

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